A Quick Nap Can Boost Your Cognitive Ability, But Only When Timed Just Right

Despite our best efforts, we’re not always able to get a full night’s rest. If you can’t just fix your sleep problems, a quick nap might do the trick — but only if you time it just right.

Dog image by Karol M..

ABC News reporter Joseph Brownstein spoke with Rosalind Cartwright, chairman of the department of psychology at Rush University, and Dr. Alon Avidan, the associate director of the sleep disorders program at UCLA. Collectively they noted that a power nap of about 15 to 20 minutes is your best bet when you’re feeling weary, but only if taken between 1:00 and 3:00 PM in the afternoon. Here’s why:

The longer you nap, the more likely you are to wake up from deep sleep, leading you to feel confused and groggy. [Also, i]f you sleep [too late in the day], the tendency would be to get into the first deep sleep of the night from which you would wake groggy and grouchy.

Basically, you’re not going to feel great post-nap if you end up in a deep sleep. You also risk the possibility of throwing off your circadian rhythm by entering that deep sleep or just sleeping at all too late in the day. While any sleep will improve your cognitive ability, it seems you can only sleep during the day without consequences if you time it just right.

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